How can I increase my SSDI and SSI payment?

If you are disabled and unable to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) work and your condition is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, you may qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. For SSDI benefits, however, you must also have worked and earned work credits to be considered insured. For SSI benefits you do not have to have work credits, but you will have to have very limited income and resources.

How do you know how much you will receive for your disability? The payout calculation is different for each program.

Social Security Disability Insurance

If you qualify for SSDI benefits the amount you will receive each month will vary by person calculated from a complex calculation used by the Social Security Administration. Generally speaking, however, your benefit will be based on the amount of income you have earned and the amount of Social Security taxes you have paid. Payouts for SSDI recipients are between $300 to $3,000 per month. The maximum disability benefit in 2014 was $2,642.

For more information about your estimated payout you can review your statement online at www.ssa.gov/mystatement/. You can also call your local Social Security office for more information.

Increasing my SSDI benefit

There are certain government-regulated disability benefits, such as workers' comp benefits or temporary state disability benefits, which can lower your SSDI benefits. For example, by law, you are not allowed to receive more than 80% of the average amount you earned before you became disabled in SSDI and other disability benefits. If you were receiving these benefits but they were terminated, your SSDI benefit could be increased.

Workers can also increase their estimated SSDI benefit by earning more income and paying higher taxes.

Increasing my SSI benefit

Supplemental Security Income or SSI is based on the annual Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). For 2014, the Federal Benefit Rate is $721 per month for an individual and $1,082 per month for a couple. Some states will also add what is called a state supplemental payout. If you are receiving the maximum federal benefit rate and your state has added the maximum allowable supplement, you cannot increase your SSI payout.

Keep in mind, however, there are several actions which can reduce your payouts. For example, if you are living with someone who is providing food or shelter to you or if you are working part-time your SSI benefits may be reduced. In this case if you were to get divorced or stop working, it could be possible for your SSI benefit to increase.

Disability increase through a COLA

The Federal Government will also periodically increase Social Security Disability payments through a cost of living increase. For example, you will get a cost-of- living increase in your Social Security disability check if during the previous fiscal year there was an increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. The increase is not guaranteed. In 2014 there was a 1.5 percent increase in gross disability benefits because there was a 1.5 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for the fiscal year ending September 2013.

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